Friday, September 30, 2022

Do You Need a Special Helmet for an Electric Bike? (Explained)

When you’re riding an electric bike, as opposed to a regular bike, you’re bound to go much faster because of motor assistance and/or throttle. Depending on your e-bike, you might even be able to go up to 28 mph.

So, it’s understandable to question whether you need a special bike helmet when riding an electric bike.

In general, you are not required to wear a special helmet when riding your e-bike. However, you should wear the highest-quality safety helmet you can afford (preferably with MIPS technology) due to the higher risks of head injury from riding a fast electric bike.

Truthfully, how well a helmet protects your head has a lot to do with how fast you ride and the type and level of impact that happens when it’s hit.

Find out in this article what you need to know to get the best helmet for electric bike riding. For instance, do you know if you need a MIPS helmet? Or what safety features should you have?

I’ve included a list of the best cycling helmets to choose from below and what you need to look for when it comes to keeping your head safe when riding at fast speeds.

Plus, take a look at my own affordable e-bike helmet… it might be perfect for you too.

What’s Different About an Electric Bike Helmet (is it special)?

To clarify, it’s not that the helmet is somehow different, it’s the electric bike that sets itself apart from a regular bicycle. Riding an e-bike is what’s special.

Because motor-assisted electric bikes are faster and more powerful than standard bikes, you need to take extra care to protect your head from serious injury in a crash. That’s why high-quality electric bike helmets with added protection, such as MIPS, are recommended for most e-bike riders.

Do You Need a Special Helmet for Electric Bikes

What Are Bike Helmets Made of?

Typically, bike helmets are made of Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), a Polycarbonate shell (PC), and a durable EPS foam liner (expanded polystyrene).

The difference between an inexpensive e-bike helmet and a more expensive one is in part due to how it’s made with these materials. A higher-end bicycle helmet often has added technologies and increased reinforcement within the EPS foam itself.

Additionally, even hard foam is not created equal. Depending on the density, it can crush by small impacts or only larger ones.

Bike helmets made with thicker, sturdier EPS foam will offer greater protection than a cheaper one with less foam density. Further, added protection in the helmet liner or shell is typical in the best e-bike helmets (see MIPS below).

Ultimately, an electric bike rider should consider what helmet will best protect their brain in a high-speed crash, as that is where the main difference occurs when compared to a regular bike rider.

Do Bike Helmets Need to Be Certified?

If sold in the USA, all bicycle helmets, regardless of whether they’re for e-bikes, are required to have certification from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). This means that they all have a minimum standard of handling head impacts.

Many other countries, such as Canada, also uphold these standards or have their own certifications.

For example, the Netherlands has NTA 8776 certification while bike helmets sold in Europe must meet the CE2205 – E10 safety requirements.

If you are buying a helmet online, make sure it is from a country that has certification standards. All helmets sold in the US should be certified by CPSC, but you can never be too careful about protecting your head from harm.

Is a MIPS Helmet Necessary for an E-Bike Rider?

Having a MIPS helmet is necessary if you want to increase the protection of your head and brain in an e-bike accident. Safe e-bike riding should be your first priority.

In a crash, the goal of the Multi-Directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) is to reduce rotational forces on a rider’s brain upon impact. 

Shows the Yellow MIPS Logo on Bike Helmet
Shows the Yellow MIPS Logo Bike Helmets like Giro

When there is a crash, the rider’s head typically hits at an angle. Whereas regular bicycle helmets are meant to protect a blow to the front or rear of the head, MIPS helmets technology instead considers that this straightforward head impact is unlikely. 

Thus, having a helmet with MIPS (see the yellow MIPS logo) can help reduce the force of the head rotation.

It does this by using an additional “sliding” layer inside the helmet (you’ll find research and additional MIPS information here), either closest to the head, inside the EPS foam, or closer to the outer shell.

Ultimately, because you’re at higher risk of a harder brain impact in a crash, due to the speed of your electric bike, the MIPS system should be essential to your consideration when buying a helmet.

What Is the Best Helmet for an E-Bike?

Electric bike helmets come in hundreds of different models and prices, making it hard to choose which one is best for you.

To help you choose the perfect helmet, I’ve selected these helmets based on their MIPS head protection, multiple customer reviews (all 4 1/2 stars or better out of 5 stars), and my own brand knowledge and wearing experience:

Best E-Bike Safety HelmetsMIPSCostCustomer
Ratings
Giro Vasona MIPS Womens Recreational Helmet ( I wear this one)YES$654 1/2 Stars
Giro Fixture MIPS Adult Dirt Cycling HelmetYES$704 1/2 Stars
Giro Agilis MIPS Adult Road Cycling Helmet
YES$995 Stars
Thousand Adult Bike Helmets- Mens and WomensYES$1354 1/2 Stars
BELL Sixer MIPS Adult Mountain Bike HelmetYES$130+5 Stars
E-Bike helmets on Amazon

Generally, the best e-bike helmet will be high-quality and should have extra safety features that you can afford including:

  1. High-quality impact-resistant material (sturdy EPS foam)
  2. MIPS
  3. Bright, easily visible color
  4. Integrated rear light (such as LED lights)
  5. Comfortable straps and closure
  6. Easily adjustable snug fit (with a dial fit system)
  7. Eye protection shield (important when riding at high speeds on an e-bike)
  8. Attached visor to protect your eyes from the sun and rain
  9. Great ventilation (keeps your head cool)

Additionally, a great helmet may have features that make it more comfortable and enjoyable to wear. The best e-bike helmet for you may be lightweight, have an adjustable airflow (some vents can be closed), allow you to listen to music or have conversations, and have a reasonable cost.

Without a doubt, the best e-bike helmet also fits snugly on your head, covering the top of your forehead and protecting the back of your skull.

Perhaps getting all of these features is what makes a truly special helmet for electric bike riders!

But, even if you don’t buy one with all of the best features, you can still get the right helmet for you. If you get one that fits you perfectly and has MIPS, then you’ve done yourself a big favor.

Take a look at my top pics above and you’re bound to find a good choice with a MIPS system.

How Much Does the Average E-Bike Helmet Cost?

Bike helmets that are perfect for e-bike riding typically cost $55-$195. However, you can get a MIPS helmet for as low as $30 and as high as $300. In general, you need to spend $25-$30 more to get one with MIPS.

So, the thing to know is that you can get the best e-bike helmet, with MIPS, for a reasonable price

I bought my new Giro helmet for only $65 on Amazon. And I chose a women’s helmet to make sure I got a good fit for my smaller head, and a bright color to stay visible (the color I received is a little greener than what you see here). You can also check out the other color options.

Giro Vasona MIPS Womens Recreational Bike Helmet
Giro Vasona MIPS Womens Recreational Bike Helmet

I love the bright color, the soft straps, and the adjustable but snug fit! And, honestly, I can feel the higher quality just by holding it, as compared to a regular $25 bike helmet.

And, although you don’t have to spend $200 to get the perfect helmet, you shouldn’t buy the cheapest one you can find! Those are made for casual, slow bike riders, not riders with fast and powerful pedal-assisted e-bikes.

Check out how fast your e-bike can go (watts compared)!

Are Helmets Required for Electric Bikes (is there a law)? 

In most places, it’s not legally required for an adult with a Class 1 or 2 e-bike to wear a helmet. Generally, each country, state, city, or county, has its own set of laws. However, Class 3 e-bike riders and children are typically required to wear bike helmets.

So, for example, in the United States, federal law doesn’t require adults over 18 to wear bike helmets, even if they’re riding an electric bike. But each state (or each locale in the state) may have its own set of helmet laws.

Ultimately, it’s your responsibility to understand the helmet laws in your city or state. You can find more information on what’s required in the United States by going to Helmets.org.

What is a Class 3 Electric Bike (and why does it require a helmet)?

In the United States and some other countries, there are 3 defined classes of e-bikes:

  • Class 1- This is a motor-assisted bike that goes a maximum of 20mph without a throttle
  • Class 2– This class of e-bike also goes a maximum of 20mph motor-assisted, but is also powered by a throttle.
  • Class 3– A Class 3 e-bike, however, can reach speeds of up to 28mph with motor-assistance

As you can see, Class 3 electric bicycles are able to go substantially faster (with motor assist) than Class 1 and 2. Many local laws, therefore, define riding one as higher risk, which is why these riders must wear a helmet. Additionally, there are other restrictive laws regarding Class 3 electric bicycles.

Discover where you can legally ride your e-bike in the US, based on its classification

So, in some places, there are laws requiring you to wear a helmet when riding a Class 3 electric bike.

Find out more about the three classes of e-bikes and whether you need a license to ride!

Do Stylish E-Bike Helmets Have the Features I Need?

You can choose to buy an electric bike helmet based on how it looks and what added features it has, but you should still put safety first by looking at a helmet’s performance.

Make sure that the e-bike helmet you decide to buy has the greatest level of protection you can afford.

Then shop for the one that has the other features and style you want.

There are a few different styles of good helmets for e-bike riders. You can select from hundreds of these styles on Amazon.

Road Bike Helmets

The Giro Isode Cycling Helmet (Amazon) is a traditional style road helmet but also has MIPS and a very fair price, making it a great choice for any electric bike owner.

Giro Isode MIPS Adult Road Cycling Helmet
Giro Isode MIPS Adult Road Cycling Helmet- Amazon

Urban Bike Helmet

Urban bike helmets look a little more like motorcycle helmets with their rounded shell and visor.

Check out this urban style helmet on Amazon. It has the cool look but also has MIPS protection, magnetic integrated lights, active airflow vents, a great visor, and even a “poplock” that allows you to secure it with your u-lock or chain lock.

Thousand Adult Urban Bike Helmet
Thousand Adult Urban Electric Bike Helmet on Amazon

Dirt Biking or Electric Mountain Bike Helmet

This special helmet style (Amazon) is geared towards those who love the sport of e-bike riding, either on their electric mountain bike or dirt bike. Fortunately, it’s still inexpensive on Amazon, includes MIPS, and comes in multiple fun colors, like this bright green one:

Giro Fixture MIPS Adult Dirt Cycling Helmet
Giro Fixture MIPS Adult Dirt Cycling Helmet- Find it on Amazon

Snow Bike Helmet

If you’ll be doing some snow or cold weather e-bike riding, you’ll want to keep your ears and face toasty warm. Of course you can add accessories that’ll keep you warm, but this type of helmet makes it so much easier!

A stylish snow e-bike helmet (Amazon) gives you all that as well as MIPS, a controllable ventilation system, and an integrated shield. You can also add a compatible Giro audio system. It’s not surprising that the cost is quite steep!

Giro Vue MIPS Vivid Snow Helmet
Giro Vue MIPS Vivid Snow Helmet on Amazon

Conclusion

Although you’re not typically required to have any kind of special helmet for your electric bike, you may be required to wear one under certain local laws. You should always check the legal requirements wherever you are riding your e-bike.

So, although you don’t need a special helmet for an electric bike, what really makes a helmet “special” is that it will help protect you from head injuries

Buying a helmet with the Multi-Directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) I’ve discussed above will increase your chances of keeping your head safe.

And more importantly, you should always wear a cycling helmet whenever you’re riding your electric bike because it’s so much faster and more powerful than a regular bike.

There are plenty of reasonably priced e-bike helmets that are just $25-$30 more than a basic bike helmet. Plus, you can even find a stylish one with extra features if that’s your thing.

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